I always find the most difficult part of writing a blog to be the opening sentence. My intention is that the blog should be quite general and wide ranging so it becomes difficult to begin with a specific point. Anyway, that’s the opening sentence or two taken care of!
As usual it has been a very busy term and students and staff are looking forward to the Christmas holidays. It has been a busy final week with Year 11 completing their mock exams and coursework and finishing the term with a rewards trip to the Birmingham Christmas markets on Friday. The Carol Service at St Bart’s was well attended and staff and students enjoyed carols, readings and drama, including a brilliant version of the Christmas story from Rev. Ben Whitmore. Tonight, we are looking forward to the Christmas Concert which will be held in the Lyceum; tickets are free but we are hoping to raise funds for Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
I had a very enjoyable afternoon on Wednesday interviewing applicants for the role of Digital Leaders. 30 students applied for these posts and 14 were shortlisted for interview. I never cease to be amazed by the quality of our young people; their applications came in a wide range of digital formats with some very original adaptations of well-known software which surprised even Mr Johnson, our Microsoft expert. One of the interview questions asked the applicants to describe an achievement of which they were really proud and it was very encouraging to hear the surprising range of accomplishments that the students had achieved between them. The Lower School students gave a very good account of themselves and contributed to some very interesting discussions. In the end we appointed nine Digital Leaders from Years 7, 8, 9 and 10. You will be able to follow their activities on the website in the New Year. In January we will be introducing new opportunities for Sports Leaders so watch this space.
Students’engagement in school life beyond the classroom is such an important part of their education. It is through clubs and extra-curricular activities that they develop their wider social skills, meet new friends and work with their teachers and support staff in a different environment. I was very pleased, therefore, in my termly report to Governors, to outline the impressive range of extra-curricular activities that have taken place this term. These include the re-launched Film Club which attracts around 60 students per week – I was able to pop into the club on Tuesday and enjoy 3D cinema in the Lecture Theatre. STEM Club (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) goes from strength to strength and competitive table tennis in now attracting large numbers. 45 students are signed up to the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and have completed their practice expedition. Students have visited Germany and Spain, won a catering competition with a visit by Gastronaughts Chef, Stefan Gates to Highfields as first prize. They have raised over £1500 for various charities and contributed to performing arts and sporting activities on a wide scale. These are just a flavour of what is happening across all areas of the school; you can get the full stories by visiting our blog.
Governors always enjoy hearing of the students’ involvements and achievements beyond the classroom. They recognise the importance of academic progress and qualifications but also place a great emphasis on pastoral issues, the personal development of the students and links with the community. Full Governors meet twice a term but the majority of their work takes place in committees which meet throughout the term. To ensure an appropriate balance between academic and pastoral developments and enhance the community dimension of the school, the Governors have just reorganised their committee structure. From January there will be three committees; Curriculum, Pastoral and Community, and Finance, Premises, Resources and Personnel. As always there is a very full agenda for these committees and the unpaid work of the governors is very much appreciated by the school.
As term ends we will be saying farewell to several staff. Rosalynn Fisher from Maths is moving abroad, Melissa Hicken from Student Services is returning to the commercial world and Anthony Gouldstone is taking his formidable IT knowledge and skills to the world of industry. Sue Shield, the Headteacher’s P.A. is retiring after 23 years at Highfields. Mrs Shield will be sorely missed by the school, she has been an outstanding member of staff and is very much part of the fabric of Highfields. We wish her a very healthy and happy retirement!